Pennsylvania Asbestos Exposure
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Dec 22, 2022
Asbestos is a dangerous substance used across multiple industries and in several buildings constructed before the 1990s. Individuals exposed to airborne asbestos or asbestos-containing products are at risk of developing serious—even fatal—cases of cancer or becoming disabled.
Because cancers caused by asbestos often take decades to manifest, by the time a diagnosis is made it’s often too late to change the course of the disease.
There are sources of financial recovery available for former employees affected by asbestos in the workplace, even if it happened decades ago. If you were exposed to asbestos exposure at your workplace, through the work you did or even at your school and have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, you might be entitled to legal compensation and financial assistance for any related personal injury or wrongful death.
The Effects of Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a group of mineral fibers—tremolite, actinolite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, amosite, and chrysotile—that occur naturally and are sometimes used in chemically altered asbestos-containing material. Before it became highly regulated, asbestos fibers were common in insulation and construction materials, car brakes, mines, and more.
Because airborne asbestos fibers are so small, working with the mineral was, and remains a dangerous occupational safety hazard. Employees could easily inhale the asbestos fibers and even carry them home to their families on their clothes, shoes, and work tools.
Asbestos workers, often unaware they were working around toxic substances, and loved ones who hugged them after work and washed their clothes were then at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases caused by a buildup of the fibers in the lungs, abdomen, heart, and other areas of the body.
Some of the most notable health effects of asbestos are asbestosis and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a type of tissue scarring in the lungs that can lead to disability or death. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that forms in the mesothelium tissue covering various internal organs, most often the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) and abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). Other tissues affected include the chest and testicles.
Symptoms vary depending on the condition, its location, and the stage of the asbestos-related disease. Symptoms for malignant mesothelioma can also take years or decades to appear, further complicating diagnosis.
Affected individuals might experience one or more of the following:
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Swelling in the chest, abdomen, or testicles
- Persistent cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Unexplained lumps near the chest or abdomen
If you think there’s even a small chance that you were exposed to asbestos in your lifetime, seek medical attention if you develop any concerning or abnormal symptoms.
History of Asbestos and Mesothelioma in Pennsylvania
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule banning most asbestos-containing products in 1989, but it was overturned and amended in the early 1990s to ban only new uses of asbestos in products developed after 1989.
In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania was home to four notable asbestos mines across Delaware and Montgomery counties, and almost forty verifiable sources of naturally occurring asbestos.
The state of Pennsylvania banned asbestos in 1989 after unanimously concluding that asbestos dust and asbestos-containing materials were a highly toxic substance and responsible for many illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma.
Pennsylvania’s first identifiable mesothelioma case was in the 1970s when there were no regulations or existing wrongful death cases to provide justice for mesothelioma patients. Many faced unknown occupational exposure to the substance. The Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act of 1990 enacted legal restrictions for asbestos in the workplace.
Pennsylvania Asbestos in the Modern Day
There are still mesothelioma claims made in Pennsylvania today. Between 2003 and 2008, Pennsylvania was in the United States’ upper tenth percentile for number of newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were more than 1,700 deaths in the state from malignant mesothelioma between 2001 and 2010.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health keeps records of all asbestos-related information, including disease control efforts, asbestos exposure statistics, and more. A mesothelioma attorney can help you access and leverage this information for your asbestos case. Philadelphia also keeps records for asbestos cases in the city.
Despite asbestos having been banned decades ago, asbestos lawsuits in Pennsylvania are not obsolete. To the contrary, new claims by asbestos victims are filed every year. These cases are not only civil cases seeking damages for asbestos related injuries and illnesses but in 2020, three school district officials were charged with felony child endangerment after facing allegations of hiding dangerous lead and asbestos contamination in their schools.
In 2019, residents of Bucks County expressed concern over the once-dormant Rockhill Quarry reopened by Hanson Aggregates, only to be temporarily shut down again pending tests after asbestos was uncovered at the site.
Asbestos Use across Pennsylvania Industries
For decades, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has tracked and reported statistics on asbestos-related diseases. This data was important because Pennsylvania has a long track record of manufacturing asbestos. In fact, Ambler, Pennsylvania, was known as the asbestos-manufacturing capital of the world for decades.
In 2005, a developer wanted to build a seventeen-story building on six acres of land in Ambler only to find that the ground beneath the property held years’ worth of discarded asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Residents have lived both knowingly and unknowingly exposed to it for more than one hundred years, and efforts are still ongoing to ensure safety and education.
There were more than 17,700 asbestos-related deaths in Pennsylvania between 1999 and 2017, and though the threat of asbestos today is far lower in the United States and Pennsylvania, it still presents a dangerous risk to many workers.
A few places with reported asbestos products or airborne asbestos exposure in Pennsylvania include:
- The Philadelphia Navy Yard
- The Chester Water Treatment Plant
- Key Highway Shipyard
- Pennsylvania Light and Power Company
- Harrisburg Light and Power Company
- The Bethlehem Steel Plant
- Northeast Philly High School for Girls
- Sun Shipbuilding
- Hog Island Shipbuilding
- Bethlehem Steel Shipyard
- LTV Steel
- National Steel Company
- Phoenix Iron and Steel Company
- Paxton Iron and Steel Company
- Athos Steel Mill
This is not an exhaustive list, and information listed here is based on state records of reported cases made publicly available.
Legal Action for Pennsylvania Residents Exposed to Asbestos
Common industries with occupational safety risks surrounding asbestos exposure also include aircraft and auto mechanics, demolition and construction workers, vermiculite miners, manufacturing facilities, and 9/11 rescue and recovery workers. There are also a surprising number of cases across the country regarding asbestos in schools.
If you have worked in these industries, with these employers, or you suspect you have an asbestos-related illness, contact a mesothelioma lawyer to file an asbestos lawsuit and get the help you deserve. You should also contact a lawyer for help if you have fallen ill and live near any of Pennsylvania’s superfund sites, which you can look up through the EPA.
It’s important to note that any Pennsylvania resident or former asbestos worker can pursue legal action for personal injury or wrongful death, even if you can’t remember where you were exposed to the toxic substance.
And while many companies that mined or manufactured asbestos related products have filed for bankruptcy, there are trusts that hold money to provide compensation for those who suffered asbestos related illnesses caused by their products.
If you win your case in court, you might be entitled to compensation. Pennsylvania law sets a two-year statute of limitations from the date of mesothelioma diagnosis to file a lawsuit, though some exceptions may apply.
Choosing the Right Legal Team for Your Asbestos Case
When contacting a lawyer or a law firms to represent you in an asbestos related lawsuit , ask the following questions:
- What experience do you have with asbestos-related cases?
- What legal advice can you give me based on the information you’ve heard so far?
- How many cases have you handled in the past, and what were their verdicts?
- Has your case ever gone to trial? How many were settlements?
- Do you charge per hour or by contingency?
Be honest about how you feel when speaking with a potential lawyer or seeking legal advice—it’s essential that your case is handled by understanding, educated, empathetic representation who can maximize their resources to get you what you deserve.
CPR Law Is Here to Help with Your Pennsylvania Asbestos Exposure Case
The experienced lawyers at CPR Law have decades of success helping clients like you get the settlements or court verdicts you deserve in your asbestos-related personal injury or wrongful death case.
We work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t get charged exorbitant upfront fees. We work diligently to collect all the evidence possible about your asbestos exposure, including information about the source, the employer’s current status, any other lawsuits associated with that employer, and more.
We then seek expert testimony to confirm and testify that your illness, injury, or loved one’s wrongful death was a result of the exposure to asbestos. Should the evidence prove adequate, you may then seek to reach settlement or pursue further legal action in court.
Exposure to asbestos can have devastating, lifelong consequences, but you don’t have to handle it alone. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (888) 973-0072 to learn how we can help.
Cohen, Placitella & Roth Law Offices take on—and win—the fights that others think can’t be won. Our team of lawyers has earned a distinguished reputation for achieving life-changing outcomes by combining decades of experience, tenacity and fresh strategic perspectives to each case we undertake. We champion and seek justice for our clients guided by a shared goal of doing what’s right and making a positive lasting impact on their lives.